‘The Internet’ joins Reddit co-founder to annoy SOPA author with billboards

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 14:50 EDT
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A billboard in Texas, funded by "The Internet." Photo: Courtesy, Fight for the Future.
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Roadside billboards claiming to have been paid for by “The Internet” went up in Texas this week, strategically placed to annoy Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), author of controversial Internet regulations that triggered the largest online protest in history earlier this year.

One of the signs, in San Antonio, is right outside Smith’s office. Another, in Austin, went up alongside Lamar Blvd. near downtown. Playing on the popular motto “Don’t mess with Texas,” the signs stamp “Don’t mess with the Internet” right in the center of a Texas flag.

“Paid for by: The Internet,” a note on the right explains.

The campaign was birthed by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Erik Martin, the site’s general manager, who published a fundraising appeal on crowdtilt asking for support.

They got that support in droves, clearing their goal of $15,000 in just two days. Members of Reddit did the rest, coming up with the artwork and message.

But beyond just billboards designed to annoy a member of Congress, Ohanian and crew have also launched two new groups: Fight for the Future and The Internet Defense League, both aimed at fighting for Internet freedoms at a time when lawmakers from both parties appear keen on stripping them away.

“This is an election year, and we’ve got a lot planned,” a post on Fight for the Future explains. “Right now we’re scrambling to organize Senate constituent meetings to stop CISPA / Lieberman-Collins. The Internet Defense League is gearing up to build the network that stopped SOPA into an ongoing force for good.”

Editor’s note: The Raw Story’s management participated in the anti-SOPA protest.

Photo: Courtesy, Fight for the Future.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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